“’Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1:21)
On this final day before Christmas, Christmas Eve, I wanted to focus on what is one of the most important names, and one of my favorite names in Scripture, Immanuel. This name was given to Ahaz as an assurance of God’s presence, and it is an assurance of God’s presence for us as well.
God’s promise to be with his people, to be their God, is as old as Genesis, and will stretch to the end of time, as we will see in Revelation. In fact, this promise is at the heart of all that God wants to do, as we will see throughout the Bible.
God’s presence with his people began in the garden, when God had close fellowship with Adam and Eve. That fellowship was broken by sin, so God established a covenant with his people. The heart of covenant in Genesis 17 is that God would be our God, and we would be his people.
The promise of God’s presence continued in the instructions for the tabernacle, when God promised to dwell among his people (Ex. 29:45). God’s presence was one of the blessing of obedience in the giving of the law. “And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people” (Lev. 26:12).
God’s people sinned against him greatly in the time of the prophets, so God withdrew his presence from his people, as illustrated in Ezekiel 11. Through the prophets, God looks forward to the future when his dwelling place will be restored among his people (Ezek. 37:27-28; Zech. 2:10).
Paul understood that through the Holy Spirit, God can now dwell with his church corporately, and in believers individually. He quotes Leviticus 26 and Ezekiel 37 to communicate that God’s dwelling place is now with us personally. He dwells with every believer and the church in a close and intimate way.
The final goal will be our greatest joy – God’s dwelling with man! “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God’” (Rev. 21:3). The coming of Jesus, Immanuel, assures us that God will fulfill his promise. Rejoice in God’s presence with you today, or ask him to be with you now, if you have never humbled yourself before God.